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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Where are they now? Alumni Update: Thomas Tom Merritt, 1966

<ong>Name: Thomas Tom Merritt, 1966

Major: Government & IR

What are you doing: Retired from the pharmaceutical industry

Activities you were involved in at Carleton: Track, Cross Country, IM Basketball and Softball, Men’s League, Volunteer.

What is your favorite Carleton tradition?
My favorite Carleton tradition is the evolving Schiller escapade. It pleases me that the Schiller story survives the generations. I am most proud, though, of the continuing character of the College: we value intellectual curiosity, we value collaboration over competition in our studies, we leave our stripes at the door, we insist on not taking ourselves too seriously, and we treasure and cultivate a sense of humor. Those characteristics were as present in my day as they are today.

What was the most important lesson you learned while at Carleton?
The most important lesson I learned at Carleton is that a liberal arts education was the best preparation I could have for my adult life. The economics classes I took prepared me for years in banking and business finance unlike my colleagues with BBAs or MBAs; the government and history classes helped me gain a broad insight into our country, its peoples, and its role in the world; my foray into art history helped me appreciate places and things I saw when living in Europe; and the science classes helped me interpret the amazing progression of our understanding of the universe that has occurred in my brief lifetime. I accept whole-heartedly Rob Oden’s definition of a liberal arts education as beginning to think seriously about what it means to lead a worthwhile life.

How has your Carleton experience set you apart in the job market? What advice can you give to students currently looking for jobs?
I encourage current students who are headed into the job market to consider the military as one excellent option. I had no choice; the draft was going to grab me in 1966 as it did so many of my classmates in that or in the following three years. I found the Navy Supply Corps as a wonderful stepping stone to a career in business. I learned management skills with people and operations and assumed responsibilities far beyond what was available to me as a new graduate. Other military programs may provide similar opportunities. On top of that, serving my country was one of the most prideful parts of my life, something I would not have thought to do without being forced to. Going to business school after some years of practical life experience, as I did, makes that education more valuable and, I believe, is still encouraged by business schools.

In what ways has Carleton changed since you attended?
Carleton is different today from the first half of the 1960s in several key ways: the student body is much more diverse, the relationships between faculty and students are much more open, and many more students study abroad.

What was the most important gift you received at Carleton?
Above all, the most important gift I received at Carleton was finding my soulmate with whom I’ve had the privilege to live an adventurous and fulfilling 44 years since graduation.

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